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A 3-step strategic approach to sustainable wastewater managementage/gi

Innocent Nhapi, Huub J Gijzen


Many cities in developing countries are facing surface water and groundwater pollution problems. This deterioration of water resources needs to be controlled through effective and feasible concepts of urban water management. The Dublin Principles, Agenda21, Vision21, and the Millennium Development Goals provide the basis for the development of innovative, holistic, and sustainable approaches. Whilst highly efficient technologies are available, the infusion of these into a well-thought out and systematic approach is critical for the sustainable management of nutrient flows and other pollutants into and out of cities. Based on cleaner production principles, three intervention steps are proposed in this paper. The first step is to minimise wastewater generation by drastically reducing water consumption and waste generation. The second step is the treatment and optimal reuse of nutrients and water at the smallest possible level, like at the on-plot and community levels. Treatment technologies recommended make the best use of side products via reuse. Once the first two intervention steps have been employed to the maximum, the remaining waste flows could be safely discharged into the environment. The third step involves enhancing the self-purification capacity of receiving water-bodies (lakes, rivers, etc.), through intervention. The success of this so-called 3-step strategic approach requires systematic implementation, providing specific solutions to specific situations. This, in turn, requires appropriate planning, legal and institutional responses. In fact, the 3-step approach could be applied as an overall approach for waste management, although here the focus is on sewage. This paper offers examples under each step, showing that the systematic application of this approach could lead to cost savings and sustainability.
Key words: cleaner production, nutrients reuse, 3-step strategic approach, sustainable approaches, urban water cycle, wastewater management
Water SA Vol.31(1) 2005: 133-140
AJOL African Journals Online